/ 21 November 2007

Airline crew members make a defiant splash

A number of kulula.com crew members went on a tongue-in-cheek swimming outing on Wednesday amid claims that the airline refuses to hire black crew because they cannot swim.

Comair spokesperson Glenda Zvenyika said: ”kulula.com crew today donned their sexy swimsuits and headed to the public pool in Boksburg to display their swimming talents.

She said the outing was an ”act of defiance against the bizarre claim by the Labour Department that kulula.com doesn’t hire crew who cannot swim”.

While many of kulula.com’s 250 crew members joined the company lacking swimming skills, they have subsequently been trained to swim. They have also been taught life-saving skills and how to manage a water evacuation, said Zvenyika.

Two star swimmers at kulula.com are ”Pandora ‘Nemo’ Ndungane” and ”Mildred ‘Flipper’ Mohale”. Zvenyika said Ndungane has been swimming since she was a child, and her favourite stroke is backstroke.

”Her crew buddy Mildred ‘Flipper’ Mohale only learned to swim after joining kulula.com, but is now comfortable performing a rescue like a lifeguard.”

On Wednesday, lawyers for Comair — the operator of kulula.com — said they will file papers with the Labour Court next week over its alleged breach of employment-equity laws.

Comair was supposed to file the papers on Tuesday in response to the department’s accusations, which include that the company refused to comply with employment equity, submitted false reports to the department and failed to keep records in compliance with the Employment Equity Act.

Earlier, Comair CEO Eric Venter said allegations that Comair did not hire black people because they could not swim were ”not only blatantly false but also defamatory”.

He said Comair has more than 850 black staff representing more than half of its team.

”Comair was the first airline to hire black cabin crew over 30 years ago. What makes the allegations even more bizarre is the fact that we are the only airline to run a swimming training programme for our cabin-crew recruits,” said Venter. — Sapa